The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed the 18th Constitutional Amendment Bill to restore the Constitution in its real shape by erasing the imprints of dictatorial regimes.

This bill will become an act once President Asif Ali Zardari signs it.

In third and final reading of the Bill, all the 90 members present in the House showed appreciable consensus to vote for the motion.

Earlier, during the second reading members from PML-Q and Safdar Abbasi of PPP respectively proposed amendments in clauses relating to renaming of NWFP and intra-party elections, which were rejected with majority vote.

The House adopted these clauses with two/third votes of its total membership.

The PML-Q argued to reconsider renaming of NWFP and Safdar Abbasi desired amendment in clause six by incorporating the provision of holding intra-party elections.

The Chairman put the consideration motion to the House that was also adopted unanimously.

"It is time to deliver. Let us ensure that dividends of 18th amendment reach the masses. I congratulate the nation, the Parliament and the Committee on this landmark achievement," said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the Senate soon after passage of the Bill.

"It is victory of democracy. Passage of the bill is an answer to allegation of 'rubber stamp' levelled against the Parliament. Now we need to ensure optimum distribution of resources and the provinces will have to do more," he said.

Leader of the Opposition Waseem Sajjad and members Naeem Hussain Chattha, Jamal Leghari, Nilofer Bakhtiar, Saleem Saifullah, Seemi Siddiqui, S M Zafar and others moved amendment in clause three relating to renaming the NWFP.

They recorded their concerns on prevailing disharmony in the province with hopes that the government and the ANP would address the concerns of Hazara people.

"Let us make harmonious decisions, taking on board all stakeholders and addressing concerns of Hazara people," the members underlined.
[sm1:167p80nf][/sm1:167p80nf]
Salim Saifullah, Javed Ali Shah and Nilofer Bakhtiar said intra-party election would end deprivation of workers and strengthen democratic process.

Safar Abbasi said "the country can be run through institutions and we have to continue institutionalization by conducting intra-party elections". However, he also voted for the same clause when it was put to the House for adoption.

MQM's Senator Babar Ghauri, JI's Prof Khursheed Ahmed, JUI's Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, ANP's Haji Adeel and PKMAP's Abdul Rahim Mandokhel referred to holding of elections in their respective parties and supported the idea of holding intra-party elections citing that the provision might have been deleted mistakenly.

Ghauri also mentioned to a 'note of reiteration' submitted by his party. But, two major parties PML-N and PPP advocated that this provision was discussed at Committee level and deleted because it was already provided in Political Parties Act.

Interestingly the members from different parties described this clause against the spirit of democracy but at the same time they voted in its favour.

It was an historic day in the country's history as members expressed broader harmony to restore the constitution in its original form.

As every party in the House appreciated the Committee for performing this gigantic task, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani announced highest civil award for its members for putting in extra toil to prepare Constitutional Reforms Package that has now been passed by both the Houses of Parliament.